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Company refuses to fund BCC Botswana jaunt, loses tender

by Staff reporter
07 May 2023 at 07:46hrs | Views
A BOTSWANA company had its expression of interest tender to do a dairy farming project at the Bulawayo City Council-owned farms - Aisleby and Goodhope - turned down after they declined to host an 18-member council delegation in the neighbouring country for a week.

Councillors had also demanded that the delegation visits a similar project in Manicaland while a technical team had been lined up to visit the United States of America (USA). Initially, the local authority had given the greenlight that the company – MilkAfric – could do a demonstration at the farms for one year, to show what they aimed to do before being awarded a lease to take over operations.

However, according to a council report, councillors have since reversed the decision and instead opted not to award MilkAfric with the demonstration year-long lease saying the company had failed to prove to council that it was capable of carrying out the project.

"Councillor Silas Chigora however, raised concern on the report. He said that the Business and Investment Committee had agreed to invite MilkAfric to do a demonstration on the 50 hectares of land. He recalled that MilkAfric was the same company that wanted to lease the farms for the purposes of establishing a dairy project. The Deputy Mayor (Clr Mlandu Ncube) said that resolutions were made based on the demonstrations and presentation. He concurred with Clr Chigora that the company had once made an application to do another project at the farms. The company had promised to take the members of the Business and Investment Committee to Manicaland and Botswana for a site visit to have an appreciation of some of the projects they had undertaken. The company had failed to prove to council that it was capable of carrying out the project," continues the report.

Sources close to the negotiations revealed that councillors felt that the company wanted to be awarded the tender via the backdoor.

"This company is the one that made the promises to host councillors and management in Botswana for a week. They also promised a trip to a similar project in Manicaland and also, they committed to taking a technical team to the US but now they are backtracking, therefore their capabilities are questionable. As it stands with this one-year demonstration lease, they are just doing a trial-and-error approach and it won't be surprising that after the lapse of the year they inform council that the project is not feasible, all we are demanding is tangible proof of their past projects, we don't want to face the same scenario like we are facing at Egodini," said the councillor.

According to a council confidential report, the company had expressed interest in turning the farms into viable dairy fodder and crop production farms.

"The representative from MilkAfric (Mr Matibe) explained that the visit to Botswana had failed because council had brought forward a total of 18 delegates to represent it for one week. It was not feasible for the company to incur the costs without any knowledge of the way forward in terms of partnering.

"The trip to Botswana was still on the table only if council provided a smaller number of delegates to visit the site. The same would apply to the visit to the United States. MilkAfric was also open to take the committee to Manicaland to view a dairy farm that was almost similar to what they intended to do at Aisleby and Goodhope farms," reads the report.

For the visit to the United States, the company had offered to take a small delegation for training Zimbabwean staff for the management of the project once it took off, as they argued that if the local authority shortened the possible Build Operate and Transfer (BOT) period before management and competent people were in place, the project would collapse within a year of the company handing over the project to council.

Source - The Sunday News
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